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Competitive Engineering: A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage [Paperback]

by Tom Gilb
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 25, 2005 0750665076 978-0750665070 1
Competitive Engineering documents Tom Gilb's unique, ground-breaking approach to communicating management objectives and systems engineering requirements, clearly and unambiguously.

Competitive Engineering is a revelation for anyone involved in management and risk control. Already used by thousands of project managers and systems engineers around the world, this is a handbook for initiating, controlling and delivering complex projects on time and within budget. The Competitive Engineering methodology provides a practical set of tools and techniques that enable readers to effectively design, manage and deliver results in any complex organization - in engineering, industry, systems engineering, software, IT, the service sector and beyond.

Elegant, comprehensive and accessible, the Competitive Engineering methodology provides a practical set of tools and techniques that enable readers to effectively design, manage and deliver results in any complex organization - in engineering, industry, systems engineering, software, IT, the service sector and beyond.

* Provides detailed, practical and innovative coverage of key subjects including requirements specification, design evaluation, specification quality control and evolutionary project management
* Offers a complete, proven and meaningful 'end-to-end' process for specifying, evaluating, managing and delivering high quality solutions
* Tom Gilb's clients include HP, Intel, CitiGroup, IBM, Nokia and the US Department of Defense

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This stuff works. Competitive Engineering contains powerful tools that are both practical and simple - a rare combination. Over the last decade, I have applied Tom Gilb's tools in a variety of settings including product development, service delivery, manufacturing, site construction, IT, eBusiness, quality marketing, and management, on projects of various sizes. Thousands of engineers have been through Competitive Engineering training and Planguage workshops that I have authored. The vast majority of students immediately recognize their value and go on to use them beneficially on projects. Competitive Engineering is based on decades of practical experience, feedback, and improvement, and it shows.”
- Erik Simmons, Intel Corporation, Requirements Engineering Practice Lead, Corporate Quality Network


"Fundamentally, the book presents a new take on best practices in systems engineering and management. The book passed my value-added test, when I realized that I was photocopying several pages for future reference, to be part of my "toolkit” of helpful tips and techniques. I particularly enjoyed reading the 10 often witty, summary principles in each chapter.Perseverance pays off with Competitive Engineering. The book is not a quick read, which Tom acknowledges. You have to carefully study some of the pages to understand the concepts being presented. The reward occurs when you glean the nuggets of wisdom from the numerous practical examples, case studies, and Planguage examples. Tom's way of presenting the CE concepts makes the book a useful addition to the systems engineer's library.”
- Jerry Huller, Raytheon

"I found Planguage to be an interesting and noble idea for the enhancement of communication in the product development environment.Systems engineering professionals wanting another perspective on applying SE techniques to real product development and those wanting to add additional techniques/ methods to their toolbox will gain most from this book. Readers should have a fundamental knowledge of systems engineering principles and some practical product development experience to realize the full value of this work. I found the chapters describing "Impact Estimation", "Evolutionary Project Management" and "Specification Quality Control" to be specifically relevant and ripe for application to various product development environments.

Overall, the book passes my acid test as a useful reference for Systems engineering professionals... Tom meets his objectives in providing a current definition of Planguage concepts and providing a handbook of fundamental SE principles ready for application with his practical experience and unique product development perspective.”
- Martin Coe President-Closed Loop Engineering, Technical Program Director- INCOSE Colorado

".for those professionals serious about tackling the requirements specification effort in any real project. I am excited about it. He offers his Planguage for structuring the system engineering process and gets at issues of risk, success and failure criteria and evolutionary project development in a rational way. This book is a must read, re-read and study for students and practitioners working in the murky area of mapping the problem domain to the solution domain.It is, as promised, a Handbook. Buy it, and you will use it. It will not collect dust on your bookshelf. This book is a wonderful contribution to our Software Engineering literature.”
- ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes, January 2006

"Competitive Engineering is an original, experience-based, stimulating, thought-provoking, entertaining, and well worth reading software engineering book.”
- IMPROVE, Software Process Improvement Newsletter

"Tom Gilb, the father of the Evo methodology, shares his practical, real-world experience for enabling effective collaboration between developers, managers and stakeholders.
Although the book describes Planguage (a specification language for systems engineering) in detail, the methodological advice alone is worth the price of the book. Evo is one of the truly underappreciated agile methodologies, and as a result, Gilb's thought-provoking work isn't as well-known as it should be, although I suspect that that will change with this book. The book describes effective practices for requirements and design specification that are highly compatible with the principles and practices of Agile Modeling, yet it goes on to address planning activities, quality and impact estimation. I suspect that this book will prove to be one of the "must read" software development books of 2006.”
- SD's Agile Modeling Newsletter, February 2006, By Scott W. Ambler, Ambysoft

"I found the rules, principles, and process descriptions associated with the Planguage method particularly interesting and helpful.”
- Jayesh G. Dalal, Software Quality Professional, June-August 2006

Book Description

Competitive Engineering is a revolutionary project management method, proven by organizations worldwide

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann; 1 edition (June 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750665076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750665070
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Systems Engineering for Competitive Advantage October 24, 2005
Format:Paperback
Competitive Engineering (CE) presents an updated contribution from Tom Gilb to the topics of systems engineering, software engineering and agile project execution. As a handbook, this work does not require the reader to have read prior works, although one is frequently invited to visit his website for additional information. From the title page, the reader receives an open invitation to enter into dialogue with [...].

Tom writes from a long practical background and with confidence that the Planguage Methods really work - if one is willing to give them a chance. However, this is not a new tyranny of methodology, but rather a rich tool set that can be adopted and adapted by a team or an organization.

The essential elements of Planguage are requirements specification (Chapters 2-6); Impact Estimation (Chapter 9), a technique unsurpassed in its ability to track the progress of a project toward achieving critical objectives; and evolutionary project management (Chapter 10), first introduced by Gilb in 1988. Specification Quality Control (Chapter 8) builds upon his earlier work on Inspections, see Gilb and Graham 1993. Chapter 7 discusses the design engineering process with cautionary advice about avoiding the trap of letting design specifications masquerade as requirements.

The book comes with a "friendly warning" that the ideas are presented in a very compact style. To ease the assimilation process, Tom includes a list of top 10 principles in each chapter. These pages, along with the "Twelve Tough Questions" in section 1.2, are worth the price of the book - but you may still want to read the supporting material for concrete suggestions about how to implement these principles. The book is also rich in diagrams and summary tables.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
My interest in the topic of competitive engineering (CE) was piqued several years ago when I heard very favorable comments about Tom Gilb's tutorial on that subject at the INCOSE 2002 Symposium in Las Vegas.

The book's subtitle is "A Handbook for Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage". The term "Planguage" is central to an understanding of the book. Planguage, which is derived from a union of "plan" and "language", is the methodology for implementing CE. Much of the book is devoted to describing the generalized processes, rules, and vocabulary of Planguage. Tom notes, "Planguage should be viewed as a powerful way to develop and implement strategies that will help your projects to deliver the required competitive results." Fundamentally, the book presents a new take on best practices in systems engineering and management.

The book is useful on several levels. For organizations without a formal or documented process, tailoring of Planguage would jump start the process at a high level of maturity. For organizations that have achieved CMMI level 3 status, Planguage by itself is not as useful. However, many of the ideas of CE-the Planguage methods-are worth considering for enhancement of existing organizational processes. Tom states that CE is "about technological management, risk control, and breakthrough improvement in complex business systems, projects, and processes." CE is a believable approach for delivering complex projects on time and within budget.

The book passed my value-added test, when I realized that I was photocopying several pages for future reference, to be part of my "toolkit" of helpful tips and techniques. I particularly enjoyed reading the 10 often witty, summary principles in each chapter.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant guide to complex systems development August 13, 2005
Format:Paperback
A brilliant guide to complex systems development

Reviewer: Romilly Cocking from London, UK

This wonderful book explains how to deliver complex systems within time and budget, with a level of quality that will earn you a "wow!"

The book defines the five core processes of Competitive Engineering: Requirement Specification, Design Engineering, Specification Quality Control, Impact Estimation, and Evolutionary Project Management. It includes plenty of practical advice and lots of real-world examples. At the back you'll find a detailed glossary that contains precise definitions and detailed explanations of hundreds of the key concepts used in the book.

I loved the style, which is clear, practical and precise. I found it a demanding but very worthwhile read, not least because of the high density of ideas per chapter. There are things to think hard about on almost every page. Gilb's decades of practical experience in complex systems development are evident throughout the book.

Strongly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A massive source of ideas August 13, 2005
Format:Paperback
There are people who suggest approaches to project management and design that seem more sophisticated or more grounded in generally accepted theory than Tom Gilb's. Tom's edge is that his ideas just work.

Competitive Engineering covers a huge range of topics clearly and with many detailed, helpful examples to show exactly what the techniques look like in practice.

My particular favourite is the section on design ideas. So much writing on systems engineering discusses design as if you can somehow analyse your way to the final design. I've always found that ideas are needed so the section on generating and sifting ideas is true to life and helpful to me.

The more you learn about Tom's methods the easier it is to see where so many organisations are going wrong.

Most people realise that getting benefits from systems projects is important but "benefits management" tends to be too superficial and too late to do much good. In Competitive Engineering Tom starts with the benefits to stakeholders and just never lets go.

This is a collection of techniques that work, put together into an overall, cohesive approach based on Tom's decades of consulting and invention.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking For Requirements Development Examples
I was looking for a book on requirements development and found this book to be on topic, but not a bulls-eye. Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by Cha Cha's Dad
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with great info!
Planguage is a word and concept that combines Planning and LANGUAGE and is rooted in the author's experience since 1960. Read more
Published on November 16, 2007 by Leam Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Systems Engineering Book
This is one the books which has caused a great impression on me. It helps to get away from high-level, gut-feeling, fuzzy goals and descriptions to very concrete targets,... Read more
Published on August 27, 2007 by Joao Cortez
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a very good book.
Building software systems is not easy, this book can help you to do a better job.
Published on January 15, 2007 by Paulo Brito
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking... further ;o)
In a period where the trend is to follow agile approaches with condensed guidance (see the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto for instance), it could seem strange to publish a... Read more
Published on March 12, 2006 by Methods & Tools Software Development Magazine
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must Read" Book
Tom Gilb, the father of the Evo methodology, shares his practical, real-world experience for enabling effective collaboration between developers, managers, and stakeholders in this... Read more
Published on February 24, 2006 by Scott W. Ambler
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, but worth it
Tom has already written one classic - "Principles of Software Engineering Management". It's a nice easy reading book full of great ideas; I dip into it at random every so often... Read more
Published on January 24, 2006 by Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Requirements Engineering Tamed
Tom Gilb's book, Competitive Engineering, is for those professionals serious about tackling the requirements specification effort in any real project. I am excited about it. Read more
Published on November 17, 2005 by L. Bernstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book if you want to be ahead of the competition
I have been waiting for this book for almost 2 years now. Every professional who is in serious competition should very carefully listen to what Tom Gilb has to say. Read more
Published on September 1, 2005 by Tino Rachui
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational stuff!
Erik Simmons says in his foreword: "This stuff works". I've been using much of this stuff since 1994 and it does. Read more
Published on August 26, 2005 by Dick Holland
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